Hi John, tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, job etc.
I’m an overly proud native of Anaconda, Montana, where I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family of seven. I graduated high school in 1997, enrolled at the University of Montana, and pretty much have been in Missoula ever since, except for a few years. I have an awesome wife, Sasha, who I’ve known (and have had a mad crush on) since we met at daycare when were four years old. She didn’t wise up and start dating me until we were in our mid-20s, though. We have two rad kids: Madeline, who’s nine, and little Charlie, who’s almost ten months. I’m a word nerd, and I’ve been a journalist for almost 12 years. I’ve worked as a sports writer and editor at newspapers in Anaconda, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Missoula, but for the past five years, I’ve been the editor-in-chief of the Montanan, which is UM’s magazine. I love my job. I get to learn and write about topics ranging from the human brain to the Harlem Globetrotters. Plus having my own office on campus is sweet.
How did you first get involved in CrossFit and how long have you been CrossFitting?
I’ve been on a “path to fitness” for almost two years now. Through working with a trainer and eating low-carb, I’ve lost 55 pounds. But my trainer recently got a new job and quit working with me, so I needed something new. I tried working out on my own, but I missed the structure and the camaraderie of training with a partner. Enter CrossFit. I was told that 5 Valleys was the best box in Missoula, so I tried it out. I’ve been at it for six weeks now, and I’m hooked.
We first met at the Olympic Lifting class that 5 Valleys offers on Thursday nights. What drew you to those classes?
The opportunity to learn and improve drew me in. I’m a bit nervous about holding heavy weights over my head, so the more practice I get, the better I’ll become. Cleans and snatches are totally new movements for me, so the Oly class gives me a chance to hone my technique. And the classes I’ve been to were rather small, so I got some great individual coaching.
[note: the Olympic Lifting class is available to all members of 5 Valleys on Thursday nights at 5:30pm]
You’re relatively new to CrossFit, what has been the hardest part of getting into this sport for you?
Honestly, the hardest part about CrossFit is not gushing about it to everyone and becoming a stereotypical “CrossFit Bro.” I’m hooked, and I want people to know what a great thing it is. Of course the workouts are hard, and all of the new movements are difficult (and sometimes frustrating), but to me, that challenge is the fun part.
Do you have any specific fitness goals or targets you would like to hit in the next year?
Right now, since I’m so new to this, I just want to keep getting better with every workout. It’s a learning process, but – especially with the coaches we have – I feel like I can improve every day and eventually choose specific goals to accomplish. (Like a sit-up, consecutive double-unders, a full workout at the prescribed weight.) Long term, I think it would be awesome to not be scared to do a workout with my shirt off. Not that I ever would, but to conquer that fear would be so rad.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen physically and mentally since starting CrossFit?
Physically, I’ve noticed I’m not nearly as doughy as I was, and I’m a bit more toned. Those physical results will come, but I need to be patient. Mentally, though, is where I’ve noticed the biggest impact. For example, I cranked out five strict pull-ups the other day. The euphoria I felt was amazing. I love the sense of accomplishment and the end of a workout. I’m totally spent, but I know I finished it, and that’s a powerful feeling.
Who is one action hero from a movie that you’d like to be, and why?
This is a great question. I guess I’d have to say I’d like to be Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves in the 1991 classic Point Break. He’s cool, he played football, he learns to surf, he gets to skydive, he gets the girl, and he is an F…B…I…agent. (And it’s a travesty that this movie is being remade.)
When we don’t see you at the gym what are you most likely to be doing?
Well with two kids, I spend most of my time with family. I’m also a huge sports fan, especially Griz basketball, so we go to as many games as we can. But my true passion is golf. I’ve played for 20-plus years, and I love it. It’s a sport where you can always improve, kind of like CrossFit. (And yes, I just compared CrossFit to golf.) Perfection is unattainable in both. There’s always a putt I could have made, or maybe a heavier lift I could’ve done. It’s the challenge that keeps me coming back.